Florida’s construction lien law provides for a “notice to owner” so that the owner knows who is working on the owner’s property under the contractor’s contract. A notice to owner is typically delivered by certified mail and provides the owner with the following information:
- The name and address of the company serving the notice
- A description of the services or materials being provided
- The company or person who contracted for those materials or services (usually the contractor)
So, for example, an electrician might list “electric service installation & materials” as the services and materials provided and list the general contractor as the person who contracted for those services.
So what does an owner do with this information? First, save every notice to owner received and save the envelope that it came in. There are strict time limits on when the notice must be served and the envelope with the postmark will provide the best proof of when the notice was delivered. If the notice is delivered late, then the person serving the notice has no lien rights.
Second, provide your contractor the name of each company who served a notice to owner and ask the contractor to provide you with a lien waiver from each of those companies before you make the next payment to the general contractor. This is how you protect your property from liens. If you have a lien waiver from the electrician that is effective through a certain date, then the electrician cannot later claim a lien on your property for services furnished through that date. Those lien rights are extinguished by the lien waiver.
Third, if your general contractor cannot or will not provide a lien waiver from a company that served notice to owner, then you should contact the company who served the notice and ask how much they are owed. They might refuse to tell you because they do not want to upset their customer by divulging that information. But it doesn’t hurt to ask. If they do tell you an amount, ask the contractor to pay that amount for a lien waiver from that company and hold that amount from the contractor’s draw until you have the lien waiver.
Following these steps will protect you in most cases from liens or threats of lien. But there are always exceptions, of course. If you have followed the above steps and cannot get the issue resolved with your contractor, feel free to contact me at email@example.com or by phone at (904) 632-8459 to discuss how we can help.